Teen moms face tough decisions, some rewards

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 12:15 PM

Katie Baker

You feel a tight ball of anxiety in your stomach just before you take off the lid of the little pink wand. There's only one red line; you let out a sigh of relief -- you're not pregnant.

If that has happened to you, then you know what a pregnancy scare is like. Many girls have at least one in their teen years.

But for some teens it's even more than a scare; they find they have a tiny human growing inside of them. Statistics say that three-quarters of a million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 become pregnant each year in the United States. In Utah, the number is 53.6 percent. While that may not be the highest teen pregnancy rate, it's still pretty high. It basically means that you can be in the half that gets pregnant or the half that is lucky.

Teen pregnancy isn't how the media portrays it. You see movies like "Juno" and "Teen Mom" and, although they may show you a teenager who has had a child or who is pregnant, they just can't really tell you how it's going to be. Adoption isn't as easy as it seems in "Juno," for example; you still have to go through the grieving process. Or in "Teen Mom"parenthood is portrayed pretty accurately but it still is not the same as real life.

There are many options for young mothers out there. I firmly believe it is the mother's choice as to what she wants to do if she becomes pregnant. If abortion is what you want, that may be the right choice for you, but there are safer ways both mentally and physically to handle your child.

One option is adoption. LDS Family Services is an excellent agency with thorough background checks so you can be sure your child is going to the right family. I personally went through them when I had my baby, but I'm sure there are plenty of adoption agencies that are not religiously affiliated, if you prefer.

There are two kinds of adoptions; open and closed. Closed adoptions are like the adoptions of yesteryear; you leave your child with the agency and they give him or her to a family who wants a child. You may never see your child again. Open adoptions are completely opposite. You pick a family you would like your child to go to, get to know the family, and after you have your child, you present the baby to them. You can see your child as often as you like depending on the leniency of the adoptive parents but, your child is still legally theirs. My son's adoption is an open one and the healing process was much easier. Plus I get to see him about twice a month.

The other option is keeping your child. Children cost a lot of money, but their love and life is worth all of the stress and turmoil. Keeping your child requires enormous responsibility on your part and your partner's, if you two are still together. Raising a child is stressful on your relationship, so be sure it is what you want. Your child can pull you closer together or break you apart, all depending on how much responsibility you want to pull. But holding your child close each night is well worth the stress.

Whatever option you choose, it's your choice and no one can make it for you. Hopefully that choice will bring you peace and joy.

In 2009, I found out I was pregnant. I felt scared and alone but I knew I wasn't the only one who was 15 and pregnant. I hid my pregnancy from my parents until my mom finally figured it out, and I didn't tell anyone except my closest friends that I was carrying a child.

Most of the teen moms I know aren't like that. They are proud to be pregnant and happy to tell you anything about their child. They struggle and laugh through each day they spend with their child and don't regret a minute of it. They show me that we are more than just statistics; we are strong mothers who love our children.

We need to change the way society looks at us as teen moms. We are not troubled teens or drug addicts who leave their children to fend for themselves. We love our children just as much as every other mother in the world. We love them if we put them up for adoption because we want them to have a better life, or we love them if we keep them by our side through every struggle.

We will rise above the statistics and prove to the world that teen moms are amazing in every way.

Katie Baker is a senior at Two Rivers High School. Email her at californiagirl194@gmail.com.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.